Friday, March 2, 2012

2221 - After the Nemesis Cataclysm: The Second Story Arc

For the life of me I can't find the precis on the first story arc (although it is briefly summarized at the start of this) but there's some fun stuff in here for the second story arc, so I figured I might as well include it:

Campaign: Post-Apocalypse 2221 – Story Arc 2

Premise: The PCs have just finished rescuing (or so they believe) the new Chief Administrator of New Eden from certain death at the hands of what appeared to be a surviving cybernetically enhanced assassin, perhaps sent by the Jovians.

Shortly after affecting the rescue, the PCs discover that they have lost all communications with New Eden, and an investigation reveals that the air waves are simply dead....the air waves are silent, except for one sudden anomaly a comm officer might discover: a curious radio station broadcasting from a location calling itself the “White Mountain Getaway,” with the following message intermixed between stations:

“Welcome to the White Mountain Getaway Station, last bastion of civilization in the greater Southwest Territories. Remember that you can always come on up to the White Mountain resort to get away from all your worries. For all of you listeners out there who can't make it, here's some soothing music to sooth your aching souls. I'm Diana, your DJ, and here's a rare classic from 2094 by the cyberpunk bank 01011001...”

Other than this broadcast, and an occasional mysterious and inexplicable “screeching” data burs of encrypted data from some mysterious location in the north, the air waves remain dead.

Encounter Events:

The “Grish”

These are humanoid reptile men. They are led by one who calls himself “Gorm.” A study of their DNA reveals that someone has spliced (heavily) from human and gila monster DNA, to the point where it is difficult to tell which was the base species and which was the receptor species. There are six in the group, looking to trade (they mostly have food stuffs and salvaged metal worked in to simple tools and weapons). They have some local knowledge for sale as well, and speak reasonably good “spanglish.” They can mention that they know where Castle Warren is. They have a single solar-powered radio that they were given by a “shiny metal man” a year ago, and use it to listen to the radio station from White Mountain. They have never been there....Gorm says that all his kind who have gone that way are believed to have died, though none have a conclusive story as to how (but ghosts play a part). Finally, he knows of “Castle Warren” in the mountains and will mention it.

Tom Saw

This eccentric fellow lives in the wilderness and trades with both the cannibals and the apache. He is a shiny, metal-skinned man (thus not edible) and runs a small farm all by himself, from which he grows crops and sells them. Though he looks like an android with plastic-metal dermal protection, he is in fact a human replicant, with the working tissues of a real human inside the protective polymer shell. Tom Saw doesn't know who or what he was in his prior life....he has vague memories of working on a star ship, for example, but he seems to have forgotten most everything else about his old life. He is very helpful, and can offer up lots of produce and other goods to the PCs. He has no weaponry of any kind, but he says he doesn't need it....he hides in an old bunker when danger approaches. He does have lots of kerosene on hand, though, and a solar array for power. He also raises animals, including classic sheep, pigs and horses as well as one domesticated “grand cabbage” (one of the purple-cauliflower monsters) which it turns out provides edible honey-like pollen when it blooms.

Castle Warren and Professor Edmund Warren

The mysterious castle Warren is known by many locals, but few understand its occupant or his goals. Warren is a throwback, a transgenic survivor of the old age, who through telemerase resequencing treatments managed to extend his own life by centuries. He looks about 50, now, but he is well over 200 years of age.

Warren survived the apocalypse by hiding within one of a number of special bunkers created during the months leading up to the catastrophic bombardment, in which the greatest minds of the 22nd century were put in to hibernation, along with the materials necessary to aid in rebuilding society when they awakened after the cataclysm began to recede. Unfortunately, Bunker Phoenix-119 was right in the path of the “stitching” event that led to massive regional bombardment by the meteor debris field dragged by Nemesis. Of all those who were ensconced within the bunker, only a handful survived the devastating shockwaves that collapsed the vast bulk of the complex. Years later, self-repairing robots inside the complex at last reawakened and managed to revive Professor Warren and two others, including the physicist Victor Thane and Patricia Wells, the senior head of transgenic engineering at the New World Medical Institute. According to Warren, the latter two quickly left to parts unknown, seeing the complex as a total loss.

Warren stayed on. With the help of “Jack” a solitary advanced repairbot and two sentry drones he began salvaging whatever he could, then migrated to the nearby new mountain ranges (which were pushed up from tectonic shift caused by the bombardment). There he established his “castle,” which as of the current date now contains a working telescope, radio observatory and partially working particle relay equipment tied in to the rebuilt remnants of the subterranean Supercollider that he has used several additional repair drones to reconstruct beneath the earth.

Warren has now managed to observe a number of interesting details. One such detail is that the Seed Pods around the world seem to be communicating, but they are using high speed burst transmissions that are heavily encrypted and broadcasting on a very low end of frequency ranges in tiny amounts. They are also, he has observed, communicating through some sort of high-energy particle wave. He has a massive particle detector recovered beneath the earth that was orignally used for dark matter reasearch. This complex was, until recently, transmitting evidence of what the doctor now believes to be faster-than-light particles being transmitted in bursts by the Seed Pods. This complex recently went silent, and he doesn't know why. He'll likely want the PCs to go down below to see if they can fix it....although he sent a repair droid to do the work, it also has never been heard from again.

Warren thinks that a recent, increasing array of FTL bursts suggests a communcication is being carried out with parts unknown, and he is worried he's missing out on the data necessary to piece together what's happening. If the PCs do as he asks, then they will have to find the entrance to Phoenix Bunker, had on down, and see if they can “fix” the problem...

Warren will not tell PCs about one of the things he WAS doing: he had successfully captured and deactivated a Seed Pod using hibernation stasis equipment from the bunker and has been trying to replicate its communications abilities, to see if he can communicate with the xenoforms in control of these devices (if indeed they aren't the xenoforms themselves). He thinks that the terraforming process is well underway, and stage two is: colonization!

The Phoenix Bunker

This bunker is actually more intact than one would imagine, but hundreds of stasis hibernation pods failed for some reason early on. Much of the gear within this complex was lost in a cave-in around the storage compartments, but Prof. Warren has managed to gather a great deal of it. Some notable locations in the bunker are described below:

Hibernation Chambers (many dead people here after stasis pods failed...careful search may reveal that the failure was....deliberate!)

Command Center (The bunker AI is still functional here, but has been cut off from all other activities in the complex. If it gets restored, it can inform the PCs that all bunker controls have been relayed to Warren's castle complex)

Storage Pods (most collapsed, although drones have recovered much here)

Supercollider Array (28 miles of tunnels; cleared and restored by drones)

Medical Bay (still works, but over-run by a strange group of subterranean mutants who use its facilities; Patricia Wells is held hostage here)

Particle Detector (elevator system leads to this location 4 miles deep; the detector is offline right now, sabotaged by Victor Thane, who has returned to stop what he sees as Warren's madness in attempting to communicate with the Nemesis Xenoforms)

Some Wandering Encounters:

1. cannibal hunter tribe

2. apache hunters looking for game

3. a fleet of immense flying manta-like creatures pass overhead; will attack flying vessels

4. a strange field of grass that dissolves rubber and metal

5. a “dead” Seed Pod. It appears to be inactive, until PCs get too then opens up, and releases what appears to be a cloud of spores. PCs who are caught in the cloud begin to mutate!

6. The sky lights up in a fiery array that looks like the atmosphere itself had caught fire. This lasts for approximately half an hour, and dark clouds of sooty smoke descends to blanket the land. Shortly thereafter a curious, stringy substance of whispy material begins to blanket the region, sticking to everything it touches; petroleum-based liquids will dissolve it, but water seems to feed it. Anything it sticks to it also bonds to. Shortly thereafter, it begins to drain the vitreous liquids from its hosts, pulsing and growing new seed pods......these eventually hatch in to spidery xenoforms that are extremely aggressive, attacking everything in sight!

7. The remains of what appeared to be a large, active survivor city, now completely abandoned by everything except one mad, gimped robot and a small group of Gish who are scouring the city for supplies. The place was called Sinagua and it was full of 2,000 people only a year ago, survivors PCs may know. They also find working radios tuned only to the White Mountain station...

8. Vast pools of what appear at first to be oil, and indeed turns out to be such, but long, ropy tentacles will try to drag nearby creatures and vehicles in to the substance. Beneath is an immense creature that actually creates petroleum as a byproduct, with roots digging deep in to the mantle of the planet.

9. A hilltop along which several dozen survivors have been killed and staked to crosses. On closer inspection, it is evident that each victim had evidence of mutation or enhancement. Not a mile away is a small community of “pure strains” who follow the mad reverend Smith, who preaches that the mutations are demons trying to enter the world through human flesh. They have a plan to destroy Seed Pods, and claim to have already destroyed one (with a metallic carapace to show for it). Turns out the reverend in his younger days found one that was inactive....perhaps damaged on impact....and took claim for its destruction.

10. UFOs are spotted! On the horizon, bright objects moving in a random, impossibly fast pattern fly about. Approaching the area where they seem to be centered reveals nothing, but curious distortion-effects in the region are truly inexplicable, until one or more party members passes through one intentionally or by accident...revealing that these distortions are some sort of turns out the UFOs are from a future civilization of hominid that has returned to earth via wormhole to study the past...

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